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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Church lowers the decibels

By Anna Weaver
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Kalihi church that nearby residents said worshipped too loudly during 5 a.m. services has lowered its sound level and is trying to build a better relationship with neighbors, according to church officials.

The pastor of Hawai'i Cedar Church, the Rev. Duk Whan Kim, has invited neighbors to a joint worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday, with a "Paradise Buffet" luncheon to follow.

"The pastor just wanted to try and do outreach to the neighborhood," said the Rev. Gary Branham, a visiting church minister. "Anytime you outreach to your neighborhood, you're doing a good service."

"We're trying to keep peace with the neighbors. It's also an offering of fellowship," said the Rev. Donald Watkins, who performs the English-language service on Sundays.

At a meeting with neighbors on July 30, the church agreed to stop using a microphone at the 5 a.m. services and to close the church windows during its morning and evening services. Church officials also said they would look into ways to dampen the drum music during those services.

Hawai'i Cedar Church is affiliated with the Assembly of God and has 200 members, most of whom are of Korean ancestry.

Changes in response to the noise complaints went into effect immediately and the church has not received any further complaints, said Branham. "We've discussed it with the manager of the apartments and he says everything is cool with him now," he said.

Neighbors agreed that the situation has improved.

"Since our last conversation, everything has gone through as they said," said resident Gary Fansler. "I see some effort and I told them that I do appreciate it as far as the noise level (I hear) on my side."

Fansler said he was invited to Sunday's events but he's not sure whether he'll be able to attend.

Neighborhood resident Val Langit said she'll be busy Sunday at her own church, but she's happy to see Hawai'i Cedar Church reaching out to neighbors.

"In the Bible what they teach is 'Love thy neighbor' ... and that's what they're doing" said Langit, a Macy's Ala Moana employee.

She has noticed the decrease in the early-morning sound level. "As long as they keep the noise down, they'll be fine," she said.

The church last week distributed fliers in the neighborhood announcing Sunday's gathering, and most people who responded have indicated they'll attend, Branham said. There will be a joint Korean- and English-language service, and neighbors will receive a small gift of appreciation.

Church members will make all of the Korean food served at the buffet after the service, Watkins said. "It takes a lot of faith to (cook for this)," he said. "You might get thousands of people."

As part of its commitment to community outreach, the church plans a lunch service for the homeless every Tuesday.

Hawai'i Cedar Church is at 1545 Kamehameha IV Road in Kalihi.

Reach Anna Weaver at aweaver@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2455.